Saturday, April 18, 2015

New Zealand Pilsner - Brewday & Recipe

Brewery: Old North Brewing

Style: New Zealand Pilsner
Date Brewed: 04.12.2015

After my last brew I was convinced that the next important piece to my brewing puzzle was a fermentation chamber. I was really intrigued by Marshall "The Brulosopher" Schott's post about the SC-1000+ fermentation controller, which is a venerable SC-1000 temperature controller flashed with a brewing-specific software. I purchased a flashed SC-1000+ through Will Conrad's It took me quite a while to put the assembly together and find a chest freezer, but this has nothing to do with the difficulty, and everything to do with how easy it is to distract me. The overall construction took me maybe 4 hours, and two of that was because my original project box was too small. Also, I opted to install a larger relay in my box to protect the SC-1000+ from spikes in voltage due to the chest freezer switching on. Instructions and a wiring diagram may be found here.

It took me a while to decide on what the inaugural brew should be, but after a tasty bottle of Trader Joe's New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, I decided that a lager of some sort, hopped heavily late in the boil with Nelson Sauvin (famous for tasting a lot like a NZ Sauvignon Blanc) would be perfect. This was further spurred on by the onset of yard work season. I decided on a New Zealand Pilsner/India Pale Lager at a fairly low ABV for post-yardwork crushability.

I picked a fairly standard grain bill for the Pilsner, adding some carapils for body and head retention, and a smidge of Munich 10L to give  bit of dimension to the malt bill and add a little bit of color. I hopped this beer fairly heavily for a Pilsner; I want a lot of hops in here, with a fairly dry finish. I used HopShot, a CO2 hop extract, for the bittering additions, as the extract seems to be a little more subtle than many bittering hops.

My one nod to tradition was a last minute decision to mash out using a decoction step rather than adding more hot water. I found this relatively easy (I just scooped out 6.25 qt of thick mash and boiled in on the stove indoors while the mash continued outside). It was only afterwards however that I realized that I should have boiled the decoction for around 15 minutes. I only boiled for about 5 minutes. Next time I will go the whole distance to get that nice melanoidin development. On the whole I found this a very easy way to get to a mash out step in without adding tons of water, and I might end up using this trick in future beers.


Batch Size: 6 gallons into fermentor
Measured OG: 1.046
Anticipated IBUs: 44.0
Anticipated SRM: 3.5
Actual Brewhouse Efficiency: 73.2%
Boil Time: 75 mins


85% [8.5#] - Avangard Pilsner Malt
10% [1#] - Carapils/Dextrine Malt
5% [0.5#] - Munich 10L


3mL of HopShot Extract @ 60 mins
5.7 AAU [0.5 oz, 11.4%] - Nelson Sauvin @ 10 mins
11.4 AAU [1 oz, 11.4%] - Nelson Sauvin @ 5 mins
17.1 AAU 1.5 oz, 11.4%] - Nelson Sauvin @ Flameout


1 Whirlfloc tablets @ 15 mins
0.5 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 mins


Two-stage starter of WLP800 "Pilsner Lager". Aiming for approx 350 billion cells. 


Winston Salem, NC municipal water
3.4 g CaCl
2.5 mL 88% Lactic Acid


Saccharification Rest - 18.25 qt @ 150 F
Mash Out - Decoct 6.25 qt and boil

04.09.2015 - Made 2L of 1.040 starter wort and pitched yeast. Didn't boil the starter, just brought to 185 F for 5 minutes and then cool (thus pasteurizing it).

04.11.2015 - Crashed starter cold in new fermentation chamber.

04.12.2015 - Brew day. Brewed solo this time.

Mash pH was 5.4.

Batch sparged this time around with two steps of 3 gallons each. Mixed well, let sit for 5 minutes, mixed well again, vourlafed, and then ran off completely each time. Collected 8.63 gallons of 1.034 sweet wort.

Boil proceeded normally.

Chilled 6 gallons of 1.045 wort to 85 F and then racked to 6.5 gallon bucket. Placed bucket in fermentation chamber and chilled the rest of the way to 48 F. Aerated with wort aerator on syphon and with 5 minutes of vigorous shaking. Pitched starter. 

Began lager fermentation program on SC-1000+ controller. This will hold at 48 F for 7 days, ramp up to 65 F over 5 days, hold at 65 F for 3 days for a diactyl/attenuation rest, and then a 7 day chill to 33 F for lagering. 

04.15.2015 - Nice signs of activity in the airlock. Resisting the urge to crack open the bucket. The temperature controller seems to be working like a dream.

04.20.2015 - Beginning a very slow ramp up to 65 F over the next five days. This should help attenuation while suppressing ester formation.

4.28.2015 - After three days at 65 F I took a gravity reading. 1.011. A little bit higher than my anticipated FG (1.010) so I've opted to over-ride the fermentation controller and sit at 65 F for two more days. If gravity is still the same at that point, then I will begin to cold crash. I'm planning on fining with gelatin and letting the beer lager for a week or so before carbing.

Hydrometer Sample. Excuse the messy kitchen counter.

I tasted the sample I took for gravity readings and am fairly happy with the beer. The sweetness seems appropriately restrained, and there is a firm but not overwhelming hop bitterness that lingers appropriately. There is a little bit of mid-palate hollowness that I'm not crazy about - great bready pilsner note and a nice Sauvignon Blanc -esque nose and flavor, but not much between the two. Also there is a tiny hint of DMS in the nose. Not loud and in your face, but vaguely... corny. Probably still within style. Perhaps served at proper temperature and carbonated these issues will work itself out. I'll have to wait and see.

04.30.2015 - Beer dropped the rest of the way to 1.010. Began crashing cold over the next week. I will take another gravity reading in a few days to make sure I've hit terminal gravity since I've recently had problems with over carving beers. 

05.06.2015 - Beer has reached 33 F. I added 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin to 1/4 cup water and microwaved it 7 seconds at a time, stirring, until it reached 145-150 F. I dumped this straight into the fermentor.

05.13.2015 - Beer has sat at lagering temps for a week, plus gelatin fining. Time to rack to a keg. Hit it with 30 psi of CO2 for now and I will give it 24 hours to work.

05.14.2015 - Dropped CO2 to 13.5 psi, which at 42 F should give me 2.52 volumes of CO2, right in line for a north German pils.

05.15.2015 - I couldn't resist taking a sample. This beer is by far the clearest thing I've brewed, though there is still the merest suggestion of a chill haze. I'm going to refrain from giving tasting notes until this beer has a chance to sit in the keg for a week or so longer.

08.11.2015 - Tasting notes and recipe tweaks may be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment